Sin should not prevent us from becoming spiritual mentors

I love the modern-day story of the restoration of a son to his father:
Sawat had disgraced his family and dishonored his father’s name. He had come to Bangkok to escape the dullness of village life. . . . When he first arrived, he had visited a hotel unlike any he had ever seen. Every room had a window facing into the hallway, and in every room sat a girl. . . . That visit began Sawat’s venture into Bangkok’s world of prostitution. . . . Soon he was selling opium to customers and propositioning tourists in the hotels. He even went so low as to actually help buy and sell young girls, some of whom were only nine and ten years old. It was a nasty business, and he was one of the most important of the young “businessmen.”

Then the bottom dropped out of his world: He hit a string of bad luck and. ended up living in a shanty by the city trash pile. Sitting in his little shack, he thought about his family—especially his father, a simple Christian man from a small southern village near the Malaysian border. He remembered his dad’s parting words: “I am waiting for you.” He wondered whether his father would still be waiting for him after all that he had done to dishonor the family name. . . . Word of Sawat’s lifestyle had long ago filtered back to the village. Finally, he devised a plan. “Dear father,” he wrote, “I want to come home, but I don’t know if you will receive me after all that I have done. I have sinned greatly, father. Please forgive me. On Saturday night, I will be on the train that goes through our village. If you are still waiting for me, will you tie a piece of cloth on the po tree in front of our house? (Signed) Sawat. . . .”

As the train finally neared the village, he churned with anxiety. . . . Sitting opposite him was a kind stranger who noticed how nervous his fellow passenger had become. Finally Sawat could stand the pressure no longer. He blurted out his story in a torrent of words. As they entered the village, Sawat said, “Oh, sir, I cannot bear to look. Can you watch for me? What if my father will not receive me back?”
Sawat buried his face between his knees. “Do you see it, sir? It’s the only house with a po tree.”

“Young man, your father did not hang just one piece of cloth. Look! He has covered the whole tree with cloth!” Sawat could hardly believe his eyes. The branches were laden with tiny white squares. In the front yard his old father jumped up and down, joyously waving a piece of white cloth, then ran in halting steps beside the train. When it stopped at the little station, he threw his arms around his son, embracing him with tears of joy. “I’ve been waiting for you!” he exclaimed. Sawat’s story poignantly parallels Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-24.

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